In this brief introduction to part 2 of the Common Knowledge symposium “Whatever Happened to Richard Rorty?” the journal’s editor asks why Rorty was dependent on Thomas Kuhn, rather than Paul Feyerabend or the then-rising stars of “science studies” (such as Bruno Latour), for science-centered arguments to support his own philosophical neopragmatism. The editor cites a letter from Rorty sent to him in the early 1990s, suggesting that the differences between Feyerabend and himself were temperamental more than philosophical. Rorty enjoyed referring to himself and others like him as “we atheists,” by which he seems to have meant “those of us repelled by extravagant or overheated claims and absolutes.” His tendency was thus to pull back in what might seem to be bored alarm from treatments of science as superior, perilous, or in any essential way different from other forms of intellectual discourse. Rorty’s understanding of these approaches to science as temperamentally religious appears lately to have been vindicated by the emergence of the primeval goddess “Gaia” in the rhetoric of science studies.

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